Kidnapped Australian released in Pagadian
ZAMBOANGA (1st UPDATE) -- After more than a year in captivity, Australian national Warren Rodwell was released by his kidnappers in Barangay San Pedro, Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province past 1 a.m. Saturday.
Basilan Vice Governor Al-Rasheed Sakalahul headed the negotiation for Rodwell's release. Emissaries were sent to communicate with the kidnappers.
But Sakalahul said it was already the family of Rodwell who had direct communication with the kidnappers on Friday after earlier state efforts to negotiate for his release failed.
He declined, however, to comment whether a ransom was paid for the release of Rodwell.
Rodwell arrived in Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) headquarters in Zamboanga City on board a US chopper past 6 a.m.
Clad in black jacket and pants, Rodwell obviously lost weight after about 15 months in captivity.
Local media were prohibited to cover the arrival of Rodwell, citing security reasons from US military officials.
Wesmincom Col. Rodrigo Gregorio also declined to give further details on Rodwell's release.
Police said Rodwell, who is also suffering from dehydration, is still confined at Camp Navarro General Hospital.
Reports said Rodwell was kept by suspected Abu Sayyaf Group kidnappers in Basilan.
Earlier videos posted online by his captors showed they were demanding $2 million in ransom.
The Australian media, meanwhile, reported today the Australian government never paid ransom and will not comment on arrangements made by Rodwell's family.
Police said they have already coordinated with officials from the Australian Embassy regarding plans of bringing Rodwell home.
Rodwell was kidnapped by armed men in his residence in Green Meadows, Ipil municipality in Zamboanga Sibugay on December 5, 2011.
He is married to a Filipina and has been staying in Zamboanga Sibugay for quite some time. -- With a report from Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga